After ice and snow experience at Rallye Monte-Carlo and Arctic Rally Finland, the ŠKODA teams in the FIA World Rally Championship encounter asphalt for the first time this year at Rally Croatia.
Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene, deployed by the reigning WRC2 team champions, Toksport WRT and supported by ŠKODA Motorsport, want to extend the WRC2 lead they built up by winning the category in Monte-Carlo and coming second in Rovaniemi.
Their teammates Marco Bulacia/Marcelo Der Ohannesian return to the competition after finishing Rallye Monte-Carlo fourth in WRC2.
2019 FIA European Rally Champion Chris Ingram (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo) makes his debut in WRC3 category.
The all-asphalt Rally Croatia is part of the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time. Andreas Mikkelsen travels to the country’s capital Zagreb as WRC2 championship leader after a category victory at the Rallye Monte-Carlo and a second place he achieved in Finland.
"I'm already looking forward to the fast asphalt roads of Croatia, which should suit our ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo and its well-balanced chassis and suspension," says the Norwegian, looking forward to the third round of the championship. His 20-years-old team mate Marco Bulacia from Bolivia comes back behind the wheel after a break since Rallye Monte-Carlo. "After a long time, I'm driving on asphalt again. I feel well prepared and see it as an advantage, that none of my competitors has already been able to gain experience on these special stages," emphasizes Bulacia.
In WRC3, the category reserved for private crews using Rally2 vehicles as well, the Finnish crew Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen go head to head with their ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo colleagues Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak. The Polish crew finished third in the WRC3 championship last year and wants to win the WRC3 title in 2021.
New to this category is Chris Ingram. The 2019 FIA European Rally Champion steps up the career ladder and shares the cockpit of a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo with fellow Briton Ross Whittock.
Rally Croatia kicks off on Thursday (22 April) with the Shakedown (Free Practice) close to Zagreb.
The teams have to complete a total of 20 special stages covering more than 300 kilometres. Eight special stages over 99.82 kilometres are scheduled for Friday (23 April). The longest day of the rally leads on Saturday (24 April) over eight further stages with a total of 121.92 kilometres in the fight against the clock. Sunday (25 April) features another four special stages.
Did you know, that...
...the Stojdraga-Gornja test on Saturday leads through the picturesque Žumberak National Park and, as a test of the “thousand bends”, places particularly high demands on the participants with regards to the most precise pace notes?
...that most of the participants compete in Croatia for the first time, which gives the pace notes a particular importance?
...Rally Croatia has its roots in the INA Delta TLX Rally, which took place for the first time in 1974 informer Yugoslavia, was part of the European Championship for years and is still the country’s internationally most famous rally?